TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed Florida’s recent spike in coronavirus cases on Tuesday, saying it’s due to increases in testing. He also made clear Florida would not shut down again.
“When this pandemic started, the testing was basically diagnostic,” he said. “Now with increased testing, it’s really moved toward more of a surveillance style.”
The governor pointed to previous statements he made toward the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic about the possibility of seeing more positive cases as time went on.
“Back in April…I made the point that as you test more, you will see more cases,” he said. “I said you could see 2,000 cases in a state this big.”
The governor noted that more testing is being conducted in “high-risk environments” like farms with migrant workers, jails or prisons and long-term care facilities. He provided the example of a watermelon farm in Alachua County. According to the governor, 100 workers were tested for coronavirus and 90 of the tests came back positive for a 90% positivity rate.
Hours before the governor’s news conference, the Florida Department of Health reported 2,783 new cases of the virus – the largest single-day spike the state has seen since the beginning of the pandemic. The percent positivity for the new cases – or the number of people who tested positive for the first time divided by all the people tested that day – was 7.46%. That’s the highest it’s been in at least two weeks.
The first week of June, the percent positivity for new cases was relatively low – dipping as low as 2.54% on June 6. But Gov. DeSantis says that number can be misleading at times because of “data dumps.”
“Quest and Labcorp, when they were getting backed up, they would report the positives relatively routinely and then they had massive backlogs of negatives for weeks and weeks,” he explained, pointing to a particular day in May that showed a spike in testing. “So it kind of skews it a little bit, there were not that many tests actually conducted that day.”
Despite the recent spike in cases, the governor says Florida will not be shutting down or rolling back any of the progress we’ve made with reopening.
He also noted that the initial shutdown was to help the hospital system so it wouldn’t be overwhelmed with patients. According to DeSantis, ICU hospitalizations among coronavirus patients are down 43% over the past 60 days in Florida. The number of coronavirus patients who need ventilators has dropped 56%, he says.
“You have to be able to have a cohesive society. That’s the best way to be able to deal with the impacts of the virus,” he said. “To suppress a lot of working-age people at this point, I don’t think would be effective.”
While wearing masks is not required in Florida, the governor says they’re recommended when you can’t social distance.